Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Facebook’s Instagram recently debuted Co-Watching, a feature that makes it possible for users to video chat while they browse the app. With Co-Watching, users can engage in direct-message video-chat conversations to look at saved, liked and suggested photos and videos together. Co-Watching is just one example of ways that Facebook and Instagram are shifting to accommodate users and communities during the coronavirus pandemic, when many are confined to home. Instagram first began testing Co-Watching a year ago. Continue reading Instagram Unveils Co-Watching Feature for Group Video Chat

Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

With millions of Americans stuck at home, Facebook’s usage — especially messaging and video calls — has skyrocketed, and driven traffic to purveyors of coronavirus news. So much so that, as of a week ago, more than 50 percent of the articles being read on Facebook in the U.S. were coronavirus-related, and U.S. traffic from Facebook to other sites also soared 50+ percent due “almost entirely” to the coronavirus. But the social media companies aren’t spared the economic impact of the virus: a decrease in marketing dollars. Continue reading Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

Twitter revealed that, in Q4, revenue rose 11 percent to $1.01 billion, the first time that quarterly revenue topped the billion-dollar mark, and surpassing the $992 million projected by Wall Street analysts. The company stated that income was $118.8 million, with costs rising 22 percent from a year earlier. Its operating income, a closely watched number, was $153 million, down from $207 million the previous year and lower than the $161 million predicted by analysts surveyed by FactSet. Shares rose about 15 percent. Continue reading Shares Rise as Twitter’s Revenue Passes $1B for First Time

Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

In Snapchat’s animated series Bitmoji TV, which launches February 1, the user’s avatar stars — and the last person he Snapchatted co-stars — in various TV scenarios, including sitcoms, soap operas and reality competitions. This first season will debut 10 three-to-four-minute episodes, unveiled on Saturday mornings. As Bitmoji founder/chief executive Ba Blackstock puts it, “we’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons.” The series takes off from Bitmoji Stories, which stars the user’s avatar in funny situations. Continue reading Snap’s Bitmoji TV Features Users’ Avatars in Short Videos

Verizon, Snap Team to Create 5G-Enabled AR Experiences

With an eye towards 5G apps, Verizon inked a new tech development/marketing deal with Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. The companies plan to work together at Verizon’s 5G Labs to create augmented reality experiences for consumers as well as engage in exclusive distribution and co-marketing projects, such as Verizon preloading Snapchat on some 5G phones. The Snap Originals video series will also feature Verizon as a premium sponsor. Director Harmony Korine made a short experimental film with Snap’s Spectacles 3 camera. Continue reading Verizon, Snap Team to Create 5G-Enabled AR Experiences

Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Magic Leap, Microsoft and Snap are among the Big Tech companies working on creating smart glasses that we can wear everywhere — and that may even replace our smartphones. Currently, glasses are too big (and expensive), but in time are expected to achieve a sleeker form factor and come down in price. Smart glasses promise to dramatically shift how we engage with the world, and some advocates believe we will eventually be able to replace every screen we use with a single pair of glasses. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Quibi Brings A-List Talent to Mobile-Only Short-Form Series

Hollywood is betting that mobile screens are ready for higher profile short content. Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman founded Quibi to focus on mobile content. Together they raised $1 billion from investors that include Hollywood studios Disney, MGM and WarnerMedia among others. The goal is to recruit A-list talent, which explains why Antoine Fuqua (who directed “Training Day”) is producing “#FreeRayshawn,” starring Laurence Fishburne. The $15 million series is comprised of 10-minute episodes only viewable on smartphones. Continue reading Quibi Brings A-List Talent to Mobile-Only Short-Form Series

Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Snap added new features to Lens Studio, its easy-to-use desktop app that lets users create augmented reality lenses. To make it more appealing to creators, from novices to professional 3D modelers, Snap introduced the Landmarker template, which supports 14 new real-world locations; six new facial templates; and an interactive how-to for newbies. Available for free download, Lens Studio runs on Windows 10 and macOS 10.11 or later. Over half a million Lenses have been developed since Lens Studio debuted in late 2017. Continue reading Snapchat Intros New Features for Desktop App Lens Studio

Snap Inc. to Ship Third-Gen Spectacles as a Limited Edition

After unveiling its first-generation of brightly-colored Spectacles in 2016, followed by a more conservative second edition following two years of reengineering, Snap Inc. is about to debut Spectacles 3 — with hopes the eyewear will be more financially successful than the first version, which left the company with $40 million in unsold revenue. The second version offered better hardware, better design, as well as a high-end all-black version. Now, Spectacles 3, priced at $380 and marketed as a “limited edition launch,” will be offered with steel frames, classic details and two HD cameras for capturing footage with depth. Continue reading Snap Inc. to Ship Third-Gen Spectacles as a Limited Edition

Snapchat Intros Celeb Creator Shows, Shares Ad Revenue

Snapchat began streaming first-person ‘Creator Shows’ this week featuring celebrities and social influencers in the same vertical video approach of the platform’s collection of original series. Notable celebs such as Kevin Hart, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Serena Williams can now stream their short-form videos on Snapchat and monetize their efforts through an ad-revenue sharing model (specific terms have not been revealed, but sources note that Snap’s standard deal with media companies is typically a 50 percent split). Continue reading Snapchat Intros Celeb Creator Shows, Shares Ad Revenue

Snap Inc. Hoping to Expand Use of Music in Snapchat App

As Snap faces increased pressure from competitors such as Facebook’s Instagram and ByteDance’s TikTok, the company is reportedly talking with music labels for broader licensing agreements to allow increased use of music via the popular Snapchat app. According to people familiar with the matter, Snap is in discussions with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. Snap is not looking to launch the next Spotify, but rather expand the way its users can integrate music into Snaps and social media applications. Continue reading Snap Inc. Hoping to Expand Use of Music in Snapchat App

At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

In January 2018, Apple earmarked $10 billion to build its own U.S.-based data centers in the next five years. In a December update, the company added that $4.5 billion of that would be spent in 2019. For now, however, Apple is on track to spend $30+ million per month on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The companies may be rivals, but Apple has come to depend on AWS as a way to deliver competitive online services. That’s become crucial, as sales of iPhones have slowed and the company has turned to online services to pick up the slack. Continue reading At $30 Million/Month, Apple Is Major User of Amazon Cloud

Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

Twitter shared details regarding its total number of daily users for the first time, and it turns out the platform has more than 60 million fewer daily users than Snapchat, and significantly less users than Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp. However, since Twitter currently has 126 million daily active users (DAU), that means about 39 percent of its monthly active users (MAU) are now using the app on a daily basis, which should prove to be an important metric to investors as it shows that Twitter is in fact growing. Continue reading Twitter Releases Daily Active Users Total For the First Time

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